Renae Donovan - 3 Bears Cottage

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  Published on Tuesday, 05 March 2019

Renae Donovan - 3 Bears Cottage

Library Home  >  Profiles & Interviews
  Published on Tuesday, 05 March 2019

This week we are proud to introduce you to Renae Donovan from 3 Bears Cottage in Coffs Harbour. Late last year 3 Bears Cottage was a big winner in the Australian Child Care Alliance Early Childhood Education Week Gala Awards, taking home awards for 'Best Early Childhood Education Week (ECEW) Program – Regional Large Centre', 'Best Regional Program Highlighting the Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF)', 'The Power of Relationships with Children Award', and, 'The Award for Best Artwork Illustrating the "Engage, Learn, Play – Playing is Education"' theme.

What is your name and which service do you work in?

My name is Renae Donovan and I am sometimes referred to as Goldilocks by the children. I am 45 years old and I work in 3 Bears Cottage Early Education Service in Coffs Harbour, which provides education and care for 43 Children and has 13 Staff.

What is your professional background?

I have a Bachelor of Teaching Early Childhood and 24 years' experience working in long day care services.

What attracted you to a career in the early childhood sector?

The energy and enthusiasm of young children is what drew me to the industry and the knowledge that I can still make a huge difference in the lives of children and their families, is what keeps me here. Working to empower families in their roles as parents is the greatest gift I have been given and it will always have a greater impact on their child's lives than any educator.

What does a 'normal' day look like for you?

Not one day is the same at my service. Flexibility and a sense of humour are needed to be drawn upon daily, to create an attitude of positivity. The need to regularly examine and adjust routines, language, practices and the environment to meet the needs of the entire service community is required.

What makes your service unique?

I believe our service is unique to the industry these days, in being that I still work in my service each and every day and look upon my family, educator’s families and our service families to fulfil various roles within the service.

As a service that is regionally based we have developed a tight family community and a home like environment. When possible we try to shop local and engage the services of 3 Bears families businesses and instil a "good old fashioned" customer service and care.

What are some of the advantages of working in early childhood education and care?

Working with likeminded passionate educators is without doubt one of the many advantages of working in the sector, the other was being able to run my business and be a mum at the same time. Having six children of my own, who at various times have all been enrolled at 3 Bears Cottage, I had a great understanding of what busy families wanted and needed.

What are some of the challenges facing the sector?

Some of the biggest challenges presently facing the sector would be the oversupply of centres and child care places. Without any rules around location and numbers of child care services operating in a local council area, it is becoming harder to fill a service, with many operating on less than 60 per cent occupancy, which in return is forcing up costs for families. Increased supply does not bring down child care prices.

How has your service changed to deal with these challenges?

Our service has dealt with these challenges by never forgetting what we stand for and at a time when there is great choice for families in choosing a centre, 3 Bears has never forgotten that we are truly lucky to have been entrusted with a family's children. Checking in with our families regularly and going out of our way to treat them with respect and interest has built great relationships and provided a helpful friendly environment so families leave happy and impressed, returning with subsequent children and spreading the word throughout our community through positive testimonials.

We are constantly in conversations with our families about what additional services we can provide, to support their parenting role further, both within our service and at home.

How does the early childhood industry need to change to adapt to these challenges?

The industry needs to change to adapt to these challenges, by lobbying the government to establish regulation rules around where new early childhood education and care services can be built. There must be a view to providing evidence on a genuine need in a particular local area by demonstrating demand before a new centre can be given the go ahead.

What advice would you offer someone thinking about a career or looking for a promotion in early childhood education and care?

The best advice I can offer someone thinking about a career or promotion in the early education sector is to think about one word "family". You have to be willing to be part of a "bigger family" where an obvious passion for children can be seen instantly, through your ability to create safe, happy and stimulating environments for your children.

Being driven to make good things happen for other people is extremely important.

This child care article was last reviewed or updated on Monday, 30 December 2019